A Voice for God to Speak ThroughFirst, a story--
Once upon a time, a man by the name of Moses, ran from Egypt because he did a bad thing because he was sick of the worse bad things and also his was an accident. He found his way to Midian where he saved some daughters of the Priest, Jethro. Jethro was so pleased that he gave his daughter Zepporah (who Moses was totally crushing on) to him as a wife. Moses obviously agreed and for a while, also took care of Jethro's sheep. You know all about the burning bush so I'll skip ahead. Moses wanted to up and leave with Zepporah (who, according to the Prince of Egypt version, insisted on going rather than was unwillingly drug along) to go back to Egypt because, he "wants to see if his family is still alive." ALIVE!! And Jethro LET THEM GO! 'In peace' even. Oh sure--take my daughter to a horrible place where everyone is a starving slave and they kill first born sons, no problem!
So yeah, it's pretty clear from the first time Jethro is mentioned in the bible that he is a very trusting and wise and for lack of a better term, chill guy. He obviously has respect for Moses, which is good because he ended up being a big deal. But this is not the best part of Jethro's story. This awesomely laid-back demeanor is not the reason he should be better appreciated--it's actually what comes way later in the story--Exodus 18:13-27 to be exact.
13-14 The next day Moses took his place to judge the people. People were standing before him all day long, from morning to night. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What’s going on here? Why are you doing all this, and all by yourself, letting everybody line up before you from morning to night?”
15-16 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me with questions about God. When something comes up, they come to me. I judge between a man and his neighbor and teach them God’s laws and instructions.”
17-23 Moses’ father-in-law said, “This is no way to go about it. You’ll burn out, and the people right along with you. This is way too much for you—you can’t do this alone. Now listen to me. Let me tell you how to do this so that God will be in this with you. Be there for the people before God, but let the matters of concern be presented to God. Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do. And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They’ll be responsible for the everyday work of judging among the people. They’ll bring the hard cases to you, but in the routine cases they’ll be the judges. They will share your load and that will make it easier for you. If you handle the work this way, you’ll have the strength to carry out whatever God commands you, and the people in their settings will flourish also.”
24-27 Moses listened to the counsel of his father-in-law and did everything he said. Moses picked competent men from all Israel and set them as leaders over the people who were organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They took over the everyday work of judging among the people. They brought the hard cases to Moses, but in the routine cases they were the judges. Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law who went home to his own country.
What's amazing about this part of Jethro's story is that God spoke to Moses through him. God used Jethro as a way to communicate to Moses, even though he spoke to him very clearly and regularly without the help of other voices.
We know that God can do anything and because of this we know that he doesn't NEED anyone's voice to communicate with his people, particularly people who have a pretty clear line of communication with him in the first place. But just because HE doesn't need to use other people's voices to speak, does that mean he won't?
We also know that God knows everything and so we know that God knew that the way Moses was running things was not the most efficient way to go about leading hundreds of thousands of people. Honestly, trying to be the entire courts system for that many people isn't smart--you only have 24 hours in a day. Imagine two people approach Moses as the same time: the first one says that his neighbor stole one of his goats and the second says that the guy two tents over murdered his daughter. Moses only has time left in the day for one case--he would obviously choose the murder. Well now the guy with the stolen goat flies off the handle and kills the alleged thief and takes back his goat. The now deceased man's son is so deeply hurt that even tearing his robe and sprinkling dust on his head isn't going to cut it so he kills the first guys daughter. This starts a family feud and...you see where I'm going.
My point is, God knew it wasn't working out, but he didn't mention it while they were on the mountain having their morning chat. Instead, he sent Jethro, Moses' very wise and respectable father-in-law to speak this truth to Moses.
Now, you can argue that there is no way to prove the God was speaking through Jethro here and that the bible doesn't say that or even that Jethro really was just a wise man who gave his advice to his son-in-law. The thing is, this happens all the time in our own lives and we don't notice it or believe that it is really happening, so why would we ever think that it happened in this bible story either?
This happens to us all the time. We hear the right words at the right time or we give advice to friends and then wonder where that wisdom came from. But we brush it off or chalk it up to good timing or luck or some other, more concrete explanation. If you sit back and think though, I bet you can come up with any number of time's you've heard God speak to you or use you to speak to others and you just didn't catch it. Maybe you never will catch those unbelievable moments, or maybe you will now that we are talking about it. And that's probably why this story is in the bible--it's a shame Jethro is so under-appreciated.
Hope to see you Wednesday,